Dear Hotel Architects…


I’m not an architect, or a contractor, or even a toilet salesman… but I think I’ve found a flaw in a certain type of hotel room / bathroom setup.  I’m no germaphobe, but I believe this design to be quite unsanitary.

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What design?  The sink outside of the bathroom design.

Sure, it’s convenient to shave or brush your teeth while someone else is pooping or showering… But at what cost do we purchase this convenience?  The cost of a bazillion tiny germs all over the inside of the door handle after you wipe and before you wash your hands.  Sure, you can grab an extra wad of toilet paper for your journey outside.  How many people do that though?  How much microscopic fecal matter is already on that door handle?  Did the maid think to wipe it down?  What if you forget after you get out of the shower?  You just washed yourself, and now your hand may venture into a feculent festival of filth.

Am I doing something wrong here?  Am I missing something?  Let’s get this right so I don’t have to touch poop-encrusted (albeit microbial poop) door handles.

Wash Your Hands Frequently. Also, don’t forget to breathe.


GOOD HYGIENE

(Sort of) Good Hygiene

I saw this sign over the weekend in the restroom of a retail store. It was beside the standard “employees must wash hands before returning to work” sign.  This was just a print out, placed in a 3-ring binder type page protector, then taped to the wall.  I don’t mean to poke fun at the store, or the person who placed the sign on the wall… but I do see a few problems with this sign, and similar signs in general.  (OK, maybe I do mean to poke fun – you can read an old rant on public restrooms here.)

My first issue with this specific sign was step #3.  For you the reader to appreciate this, I should have perhaps taken a few more photos of my surroundings.  The knobs on the sink were the little kind.  One would have to be quite flexible and creative to turn them off with their arms.  Also, this restroom lacked paper towels.  There was a hand dryer on the wall though.  I could have used some toilet paper to turn off the faucet, but have you ever gotten TP wet?  And, if I waited until my hands were dried by the air dryer… I would have wasted a large amount of water.  I can see that someone took the time to print & post the sign carefully.  Perhaps they could have altered the steps to ones that pertain to their setup?

I guess that’s my only big issue with this sign, other than other sings have told me 30 seconds, or even to sing a song in my head, like “Old McDonald” or “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”… but I’m sure hand-washing time is a subject of hot debate in the hand-washing and general good hygiene sign community.

I wonder what frequently means?  I would think that if one needed hand-washing explained, and they could read the word frequently… one may wonder exactly how often one should wash.  One may think a few times a day is frequent.  One may think that since you’re in the bathroom, it’s talking about your time within.  Should you wash your hands 2 or 3 times for each restroom trip?  I would bet that clarification is definitely needed for the people that need these signs.  I find myself confused, and I already know how to wash my hands.  (Also, I’m sure that some medical professionals would remind you that frequent hand-washing is a sign of OCD.)

I wonder who needs these sings, and at the same time… why there aren’t more of them, educating the uninformed masses of more good hygiene policies.  There could certainly be a bunch more in public restrooms like “don’t pee on the seat”, “no boogers on the wall please”, & “proper nest-building for public toilets”.

I almost want to make a “how to wipe your behind” sign to hang up as a joke to post in restrooms around the area… but sadly I fear that we may see them for real some day.  Maybe they do already exist somewhere.  I would definitely include a “flush at [X] number of sheets per [X] ounces of fecal matter, to prevent clogging” line.

Perhaps a sign above the trash can that says “please do not place soiled underwear in trash can” would also be in good order.  Seems I know quite a few people who have worked places with public restrooms where this sort of thing has apparently happened.  Maybe in with this, signs warning against urinating or defecating in the sink would be appropriate.  This, I have unfortunately seen with my own eyes at the O.  Many many years ago, I was trapped by a hopefully drunk street-urchin looking fellow once who tried to share my urinal… when I balked, he relieved himself in the sink which was unfortunately on my way out the door.  That time, I skipped washing my hands.  Perhaps a footnote is in order on the hand-washing sign.  “*If you have just witnessed someone urinating in the sink, you may skip hand-washing.”  I’m betting the same people that need hand-washing reminders/instructions would also need to be told not to touch others’ urine.

So, I now task you the reader with helping me think of other signs that may need to be hung up in public restrooms and beyond.  What do people need told?  What obvious things maybe aren’t so obvious to all of us need to be publicly addressed?

What about “Please don’t eat the food on the floor by the trash can” at your favorite fast food restaurant? What about “how to pick up dog poop” instructions at the park, right by the useless “No Dogs In Park” signs?  What about some signs on buggies (shopping carts to you non-Yinzers) that say “We have cart returns, please put this in one when you’re done, not pushed to a random nearby corner”?

If you’re super-creative, send me a sign and I’ll post it.  You can either link to the url or image wherever it lives using html in the comments, or email it to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com.

Please, wash your hands before emailing me though.

I hate public bathrooms.


Abandonded, dirty bathroom - Seattle

Image by StartTheDay via Flickr

Well, I’m sure everyone does to a certain extent.  I hate them for the obvious reasons of comfort/germs/privacy just like (I’d imagine) everyone else.  I mean, everyone would rather do business on their own throne & all alone, am I right?

I hate public facilities for other reasons that are somehow more annoying than the obvious…

  • They’re never stocked properly.  Okay, I guess this one’s obvious.  Sorry.  Perhaps I should also say “rarely” instead of “never”, but I’m ranting here.  If something’s not out completely, the dispenser is jammed which is worse because it’s there but you can’t get to it.  Soap? Toilet paper? Hand towels?  Who needs ’em, right?
  • TP Quality.  If I can see through it and  have to go bad enough that I’m actually pooping in a public bathroom, you can guarantee that I’m going to wad it so much that you should have just bought the better stuff anyway.
  • The “hey we cleaned it 10 min. ago” sign-in sheets.  Yeah, “cleaned”.
  • Sink design.  There seem to be a lot of sink designers out there that have never actually washed their hands.  When the faucet hangs about 2 inches over a sink basin with a large slope… my knuckles are hitting porcelain and my palms remain dry until I pull some contortionist-like moves that should probably get me into the Olympics.  Did no one think about that when the bathrooms were being built or remodeled?  No one has tried the sink out, regardless of the inevitable “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign?  Perhaps I am doing it wrong.  Is there a secret?  If there is a better way, I am but your humble student.
  • Water.  It’s never quite right, is it?  Scalding, freezing… a minor inconvenience I guess.  Most public sinks that I encounter have the all-on-splash-my-shirt setting and the just-above-a-drip setting with not much in between.  I’ll also mention the “oh no I leaned on the counter and it looks like I peed my pants” moment here.  The auto-sinks at Walmart stores feel like there’s a tiny elf with an eyedropper in there just waiting to wash your hands.
  • Foam soap is just terrible.  Quit it already.  I’m over it, and you should be too.  It dissipates so quickly & leaves my hands feeling either not clean at all at best or almost sticky at worst.  The watered-down liquid soap that was used regularly well into the late 90’s and early 00’s is just fine.
  • Technology isn’t your friend.   I’m the last person to run a tirade against technology.  But sometimes, the more there is to it, the more there is to go wrong.
    • The auto-flush toilet was probably the first to appear.  While noble, I have perfected my boot-flush and elbow-flush techniques… so I don’t need it, even if it does work.  Everyone’s heard the tale of someone who was auto-flushed upon amid doing business on the john.  No one wants to be the victim there, right?  Especially of the ones that look like a mini hurricane in a bowl.
    • The Hand Dryer.  I believe the correct ratio is 1 out of every 3 hand dryers (hot or cool) actually functions.  I haven’t done any studies, and I’m not sure if this is the factory QC acceptance level, but it seems about right.  I’m saying 1 out of 5 for the no-button auto kind.  You can quote me on this.
    • The hands-free paper towel dispenser.  Jammed, not working, empty, gives a 3″ square or enough to dry 1 finger… then takes 10 minutes to give you enough for the next finger.  So much here to go wrong.
    • The hands-free soap dispenser.  There’s no soap in it, because it’s all on the floor.  Or, if it’s an in-sink unit, there’s always a bottle of Softsoap or Dial there because the in sink unit is always empty or broken.
    • The hands-free sink.  See my previous comment about elves & eye droppers.  It also helps if the elf isn’t sleeping.
    • Pfft.  The auto your-ass-stinks dispensers make it smell like poop and flowers.  That helps.
    • What’s next?  Someday there will be butt-wiping robots or poo-burning laser beams.  I’d like to go on record now as voting against this.
  • The pee trough.  These are rare nowadays, thank goodness.
  • The Surprise.  Unfortunately you know what I’m talking about.  Stop it, people.
  • The trash can.  Full or overflowing?  Yes.  The in-sink or in-wall ones are a joke.
  • The multi-tasker.  I don’t want to hear you on your phone while you’re pooping.  The person on the other end doesn’t want to talk to you while you’re pooping.  I don’t want to talk to you while I’m pooping.  Phones and pooping do not mix.
  • The dweller.  What’s with people that just hang out in restrooms?  What are you doing besides making me nervous?  If you’re not using the facilities or freshening up… get out.

What did I miss?  I’m sure something in public restrooms annoys you too.  What is it?  Am I wrong with any of the above statements?  Have any horror stories?  Hit me with comments…

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Giveaway!


Yeah, I’m entering a contest via this blog post.  You ought to enter the contest too.  What is it?  It’s a giveaway from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.  I’ve blogged about them before, so I’m sure you’ve picked up one of the plethora of books available from the BRI already.  If you haven’t, you now have no excuse, you can enter the contest and get one for free!

In all seriousness, this is my book of choice… before bed, to relax, while waiting for something, and of course on the throne.  I love how they’re broken down into short segments of information… sometimes in story form, sometimes like a nice little history lesson, always with a touch of humor.

May times I have leared about something in a Bathroom Reader, then gone right to Google & Wikipedia or the bookstore to learn more.  I highly recommend these books!

Uncle John's Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader

(Another) Message from McDonald’s USA [ref#:6502666 & ref#:6521333]


I never got a reply from McDonald’s going any farther than the original “we’ll forward it to the appropriate party” email.  So, I decided to reply.  Nothing to lose, right?  Well, I couldn’t directly reply, because of the incredibly blunt “No ‘replies’ can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.compart of their email.  So, back to the McWebform I went!  I even included the fancy ref#:6502666.

Well, it apparently worked!

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 5:09:19 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA

Hello Eric:

Thank you for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center. I’m sorry you have not yet received a local response regarding your recent McDonald’s restaurant experience.

Please know we take your comments very seriously. I will immediately re-contact the franchise owner of the restaurant you visited and request that he or she follow-up with you as soon as possible.

Please be assured your complete satisfaction is our top priority. Thank you for your patience and for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center.

Jimelle
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6521333

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:

Hello,

Regarding my last message from Ashley at McDonald’s customer service… ref#:6502666

I was told not to reply to the email… hopefully that reference # can refer you to my earlier message.

I think it’s a very poor setup that you have… not being able to reply to emails.

Your message to me said “Because most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated, I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that your comments will be investigated and, if appropriate, corrective action will be taken.

Secondly, although we did not completely meet your expectations, please know that our restaurant employees strive to maintain the highest standards of quality, service, cleanliness and value and it’s certainly nice to know that their efforts are appreciated. We want to recognize your complimentary comments and thank you for your kind words.

Was anyone at that McDonald’s contacted?

Will I get a reply?

And, then, it was followed up by this…

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 7:07:00 PM
Subject: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM
Subject: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant
To: [complete@misspelling.of.my.email.address]
Dear Eric

I am the Customer Service Representative of the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant. I unfortunately did not receive your first e-mail.  Please fill me in on the situation.   I am located in the Pittsburgh area and will address all issues to the supervisors of this restaurant.
Sincerely,
Sandra Jaeger

How cool is that?  Ha ha ha.  An actual response!  Funny that it “didn’t get through” the first time.  Very funny.  Also funny that it went to a complete misspelling of my email address, those of you who have it will find it amusing.  There was a “.” where a “_” should be as well, as a few incorrect letters.  (Not transposed, incorrect.)

So, of course, I had to write back…

From: me@my.email.address
To: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 10:00:58 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

Hello Sandra,

Thanks you for the reply!  I have always wondered if the emails that you get in reply to webforms at sites like the McDonald’s one are anything more than a standard form letter.  In reply to my first message, the response said “I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited.”  I had wondered if this really was the case…  Apparently not, until I took the time to reply with a second message asking if it had really gone any further.  I’m glad I took the time to follow up!

I  find it amusing that my original comments did not make it to you.  It makes me wonder how many emails remain unanswered daily when filtered through the McWebform.  This is not your problem though, as you are obviously concerned and addressing this issue now.

My original comments were regarding a visit that I had over a week ago now, in an evening stop at the McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. in Beechview or Dormont or whatever the neighborhood may be there.

My original message was…

The crew in the place tonight seemed to be operating well, were friendly, and quickly as far as the food was concerned, but the parking lot was full of cars for the bar next door, and the men’s bathroom was disgusting.  Please see this link for a review & photos: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346713/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/McDonalds-Pittsburgh

That pointed to a review that I posted on UrbanSpoon.com, which you can read here…
“Sadly, had the best service there tonight in years…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (98 reviews)
November 29, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Small crew tonight, decent night-time crowd, stopped for a late dinner, was served relatively quickly… fries were a perfect golden color and hot… burgers were OK, super-greasy but it IS McDonald’s. We were out at an event earlier, on the way home… had to use the facilities… but they were trashed. Stall #1 had no TP dispenser, the roll was on the back of the commode, and the bowl was chock full of the stuff. Stall #2 had a broken doorknob/lock mechanism. One hand dryer was stuck on, the other didn’t work, and both urinals were full of urine. I know they can’t control flushing… but periodic checks/cleanings and some repairs might be in order.  Just when I thought this place had their stuff together for once… My advice? When stopping here, use the facilities somewhere else. 1 person likes this review

…and these are the photos referenced:

Stall #1

Stall #2

I understand that the fact that at that time of night, there’s perhaps a smaller than usual crew, and that the West Liberty Ave. location is seemingly always busy.  I have been through the drive-thru at this time of night before, and it always seems slow, though it’s thankfully not as slow as the Wendy’s right down the street.  Those people have a whole different set of issues.  My friends and I call it “The Slow Wendy’s”.

I was just wondering what kind of cleaning & maintenance policies that you have in place?  Does management or ownership do any kind of inspection or follow-up?  Do inspections my the corporation ever occur?  I mean, surely you can’t think the photos above are an acceptable presentation of your restaurant chain?

I don’t know about you, but when I “gotta go”, it’s urgent!  The urinals looked filthy, si I opted for the stalls… one was stuffed, and one had a door that wouldn’t close.  I like to do my business in private, no interruptions.  Closing doors are a good thing!  Also… the lack of a TP dispenser, & the roll just being on the back of the thing…  I cannot imagine what would have happened had I needed to use that.  I mean, how uncomfortable would it be to reach behind yourself like that after…  Well, after doing your thing?

Thank you for your time, and the follow up.  I appreciate the fact that you took the time to inquire about the issue.

Sincerely,
-Eric

Maybe I should have included a link to the Wendy’s incident?  Not yet, my friends.  Not yet. I can’t wait to see what kind of response I get this time.  I love when it gets down to a real live person in charge of something.

Top 10 Bathroom Reads (Listverse)


Ha, I have #1 on this list from Listverse Top 10 Bathroom Reads

It’s quite interesting & hilarious.  Here’s an excerpt…

Ring of Fire Poo [What's Your Poo Telling You?]

I’m gonna have to pick up #8, or ask the wife to get it for me for Christmas or my Birthday… ha ha ha.  I love it based on it’s tag-line… “How America is Shaped by its Grossest National Product” — Genius!

I am disappointed however, that the standard by which all bathroom-reading material should be held was sadly absent form the list.  What about Uncle John?  I have nearly all of their books, and can’t wait until the new ones come out!  I was even recently duped into buying an Armchair Reader instead of the Bathroom Reader that was not by Uncle John or the BRI.  They’re not written nearly as well, nor are they as informative… yet the covers look eerily similar.

By the way, with all this talk of poop… watch out for El Caganer this year!

Message from McDonald’s USA [ref#:6502666]


Heh.  McDonald’s wrote back about my brief stop and UrbanSpoon.com review (posted with pictures) the other night.

Here’s the message below, that rides the “impersonally personal response” line quite well.

Someone got rid of the pictures at UrbanSpoon.com… perhaps they were flagged as inappropriate?  I can see that.  Oh well, no reason I can’t show them here.

Stall #1

Stall #2

Here’s my review…

photo prime
“Sadly, had the best service there tonight in years…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (98 reviews)
November 29, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Small crew tonight, decent night-time crowd, stopped for a late dinner, was served relatively quickly… fries were a perfect golden color and hot… burgers were OK, super-greasy but it IS McDonald’s. We were out at an event earlier, on the way home… had to use the facilities… but they were trashed. Stall #1 had no TP dispenser, the roll was on the back of the commode, and the bowl was chock full of the stuff. Stall #2 had a broken doorknob/lock mechanism. One hand dryer was stuck on, the other didn’t work, and both urinals were full of urine. I know they can’t control flushing… but periodic checks/cleanings and some repairs might be in order.  Just when I thought this place had their stuff together for once… My advice? When stopping here, use the facilities somewhere else.

1 person likes this review Recommend

And here’s their response with my message submitted through the McWebform following below…

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
To: eric_aixelsyd@yahoo.com
Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 5:14:49 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA

Hello Eric:
Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center to bring your recent experience to our attention.First, I hope you will accept my sincere apology for your disappointment in McDonald’s. I can assure you that we want you to be completely satisfied every time you visit one of our restaurants.Because most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated, I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that your comments will be investigated and, if appropriate, corrective action will be taken.

 

Secondly, although we did not completely meet your expectations, please know that our restaurant employees strive to maintain the highest standards of quality, service, cleanliness and value and it’s certainly nice to know that their efforts are appreciated. We want to recognize your complimentary comments and thank you for your kind words.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald’s and giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. Customer feedback is very important to us as it helps us improve. McDonald’s is number one because of customers like you.

Ashley
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6502666

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

You wrote:

The crew in the place tonight seemed to be operating well, were friendly, and quickly as far as the food was concerned, but the parking lot was full of cars for the bar next door, and the men’s bathroom was disgusting.  Please see this link for a review & photos: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346713/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/McDonalds-Pittsburgh

Rarely is this kind of stuff ever followed up by the local chain. I don’t know if that’s indicative of stores nation-wide, or just in our area.  Then again… it gets me wondering…  I put my address in that webform… and my photo is up at UrbanSpoon.com.

Bad idea?

The Creepy Mrs. Claus


So, on Friday, we boxed up the fall decorations, took ’em to the basement, and brought up the Christmas decorations. My wife, Bethany, put out most of the smaller decorations that go around the apartment, we’ll probably do the tree and maybe some outside lights by the end of the week.

As I was laying on the couch Friday night while we were watching TV… I felt like I was being watched. I was! There was a creepy set of tiny gnome-like yes staring right through me from the coffee table.

It was a tiny eerie Mrs. Claus salt (or pepper) shaker. It must be a set… no idea where they’re from. Mr’s Claus’ apron actually even looks like it was melted a little at one point in time. Perhaps she was stored in a hot attic, near some warm holiday lights, or near a radiator?

So, I did what any normal person would do (I hope)… and I turned the creepy little thing so it was no longer facing me.

Bethany erupted in a fit of laughter, because I was obviously disturbed by a tiny inanimate object.

Saturday morning, I stepped into the shower stall, and Mrs. Claus was eight there on top of the shampoo dispenser looking right at my naked figure.

Game on. Bethany wins the first round.

Needless to say, Mrs. Claus was all over the house this weekend.

We’ve played this game before with empty toilet paper rolls… because someone refuses to change them when they’re done, and just sets a new roll on the window sill. Not naming anyone here, I’m just sayin’. They’ve ended up in pillowcases, in the freezer, in the car… you name it.

This morning, I used my cell phone to capture an image of the disturbing little holiday figurine, Photobucket to save it, paint.NET to crop it, and then I emailed it to my wife’s Yahoo!, Hotmail, & Work email addresses, and her phone.

Not sure where to go next… but I thought I’d share the creepy Mrs. Claus image, in case you had anyone that you wanted to creep-out.

Maybe I’ll eventually have to get a better photo with the camera. This one’s a little blurry.